After a close 1–0 loss to Clarkson on Friday night, the Bulldogs bounced back to top nationally-ranked No. 13 St. Lawrence 4–2 in their first home weekend of the season.
Yale (3–2–1, 2–2 ECAC) fell to Clarkson (1–4–4, 1–0–1 ECAC) after 57 minutes of tied 0–0 play. With just two and a half minutes left in the third period, the Golden Knights tipped the puck past Bulldogs goalie Jeff Malcolm ’13 to take the lead and ultimately the game. Malcolm played a strong game with 27 saves, but the Blue and White were outshot 28–22.
“We turned the puck over way too often [on Friday] and in the end that’s what cost us,” head coach Keith Allain said. “We played well but not well enough.”
Allain said turnovers were the main difference between Saturday’s high tempo win and Friday’s loss. When the Bulldogs lost control of the puck in the neutral zone late in the third period, Clarkson drove in on a two-on-one opportunity and fired a shot off Malcolm’s pad. The Golden Knights’ Jarrett Burton picked up the rebound and popped it past Malcolm’s stick.
The Bulldogs may have lacked momentum on Friday, but they stormed the ice on Saturday night with plenty of hits, an eagerly competitive mentality and poised goal tending, ultimately beating St. Lawrence (5–2–1, 0–1–1 ECAC) by two points.
“We came out with intensity and obviously a little chip on our shoulder after [Friday] night,” forward Kenny Agostino ’14 said.
That chip on their shoulders was enough to get the Bulldogs moving early.
While St. Lawrence controlled the puck for the first few minutes of the game, gaining a quick 10–4 shot advantage over the Elis, Yale quickly battled back and ended the period down just 10 shots to 13. With just over a minute left in the first period, Nicholas Weberg ’15 drove the puck wide and circled behind the net. He then hit defenseman Rob O’Gara ’16 who fired a low-wrist shot between the legs of several Saints defenders. Agostino was in front to pick up the rebound and slide it around Saints goalkeeper Matt Weninger to give Yale a 1–0 lead at the end of the first.
Second period play heated up as both teams dolled out open ice and along the boards hits, but Yale fought through the physical play and outshot the Saints 15 to 9 in the period. The Bulldogs scored their second goal when forward and team captain Andrew Miller ’13 drove the puck wide and then slowed down to create space between the tops of the circles and the blue line. He then moved to the hole he created in front of the Saints’ defensemen and ripped a wrist shot over Weninger’s shoulder for his first goal of the season. Just two minutes later, however, the Saints broke up Yale’s power play breakout attempt and snuck a short-handed goal past Malcolm to cut Yale’s lead back to one.
The Bulldogs maintained their dominance after the second period to clinch the win. Just 4 ½ minutes in, Trent Ruffolo ’15 picked up a rebound from a wrap around attempt by Clinton Bourbonais ’14 and slid it past Weninger to replenish the Bulldogs’ two-goal lead.
With just over 13 minutes left to play, Miller was hit from behind while battling for a puck along the boards. St. Lawrence’s Jeremy Wick was sent to the box for boarding and Miller skated off the ice briefly but refused to miss a shift.
Less than a minute later on the ensuing power play, Miller got his chance for retribution as defenseman Tommy Fallen ’15 set Miller up for a slap shot that went past the Saints’ goalie to give the Elis a comfortable three-goal lead.
“The hit didn’t feel great,” Miller said. “But the goal felt great.”
Five minutes later St. Lawrence managed to get one past Malcolm, but by then it was too late for the Saints to even the scoreboard.
Allain said he has wanted Miller to take more of a scoring role on the team, and the team captain managed to do just that on Saturday, scoring his first two goals of the season.
“We want him to shoot more and hit the net more,” Allain said. “We saw that tonight.”
The Bulldogs’ first weekend of games at Ingalls Rink drew a large crowd of supporters, including Provost and President-elect Peter Salovey, who said that he and his wife try to make it to many Yale hockey games.
“[Yale] played three strong periods of hockey,” Salovey said. “St. Lawrence is a nationally ranked team and we beat them solidly. That bodes well for the rest of the season.”
St. Lawrence currently has the top scorer in the NCAA on its roster: Kyle Flanagan. He has put up six goals and nine assists in just seven games to lead all of NCAA Div. I scoring.
In two weeks, the Bulldogs are set to travel to the Centennial State where they will take on Denver and Colorado College in two non-conference games.